Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Where did the summer go ?!

Holy crap.  Have I not posted anything since July ?

The summer has flown by and now I'm 11 days out, and in mid-taper, ahead of Chicago.

I guess a quick recap is in order.

Returning from Africa, I continued with the 50 mpw schedule, and bumped it by 10% each week, until I got back to the 70 miles / week threshold.  I kept that up through the summer, following the Pfitz 70/12 plan for Chicago.  Juggling schedules for varying reasons, I maxed out at 82 one week, but most were between 65 - 70 miles.

Injury wise, things have been pretty good.  My achilles issues appear to be behind me (hopefully that's not tempting fate), although I do have some minor bone spurs in the bottom of my right foot which can be aggravated by a tight peroneous longus muscle in my calf.  Running 70 miles / week is always going to leave to some aches and pains, but it's been nothing too bad.

I ran 2 races in August in consecutive weekends, and crushed PRs in both.

The first, a 5K was run on a whim.  It was a local race and I decided the day before to give it a go.  I hate 5Ks.  They're too fast and too painful for me, but somehow I averaged 6 min / miles and ran an 18.36.  Considering I went into 2010 wanting to go below 20 mins, that's a pretty big improvement.

The following weekend was the Georgetown to Idaho Springs half marathon.  Last year I'd run a then, PR, of 1.31.43.  I'd improved that in March this year at the Boulder Spring half with a 1.28.5x.  Going into Georgetown I felt good and was able to maintain a 6.35 pace and come in at 1.26.21.   Again - my 2010 goal had been to get below 1.30, so I've easily accomplished that too.

I also trained to become a certified running coach (RRCA).  I completed the class a few weeks ago, and passed the test.  I just need to get CPR and first aid training (early November) and then I'll be an RRCA certified running coach.

I'm not sure how much coaching I'll actually do.  In the class they talked about how you could be a good runner, or a good coach, but that it was hard to be both.  I still have some running goals that I'd like to go after, so for now the coaching will take a back seat.  Still, the knowledge I gained will be very useful and should help me in future training cycles.

One thing that I finally learned this cycle - and that was confirmed in the class - was the need to run long and slow in training.  While I'd heard that many times before, it was hard for me to reconcile in my mind why you'd want to train slowly if you wanted to race fast.  Surely practicing to run at marathon pace would be the best way to run at marathon pace ?

That's not the case.  While there are some runs you do want to train fast on - VO2 max, or tempo runs, the majority of runs should be run at a much slower speed than your intended pace.  Finally I know the science.  We have different types of muscle fibers - slow and fast.  Most people know that.  What I didn't know was that there are 2 types of the fast twitch fibers.  And one of these can be 'recruited' to work aerobically if you train them to.  This means that rather just rely on the slow twitch fibres you can get aerobic help from the type IIa fast twitch fibres.

However - it's an either or.  If you train hard and fast all the time - these fibers are being recruited to help the anaerobic energy system.  That won't help in a marathon.  If you train long and slow, they're being trained to help the aerobic system.

I guess I'll find out in a couple of weeks if it helped, although the 2 PRs confirm that the slower training has helped elsewhere.  In my previous marathons I've really suffered over the last 5 or 6 miles.  It'll be interesting to see if this makes a difference.

As for Chicago - there is an awful lot less pressure this year.  Last year it was my first marathon.  I wanted badly to BQ, but wasn't sure what to expect.  I thought about nothing else for weeks leading up to it and slept badly.  This year round, another year wiser and having been through it multiple times - I know exactly what to expect.  I'm also not putting a time goal on myself.  While my 5K and half times predict out to about a 3.02 marathon, and while a number of friends are aiming to go below that 'magic' 3 hour threshold.  I'm really not.  I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet.  I'll be very happy with a time in the 3.05 - 3.10 range, which would still be a considerable PR and would then perhaps set me up for a faster attempt next year.

We'll see.

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